Monday, October 08, 2007
Airpower.... Real Airpower
Yesterday afternoon I witnessed something I never imagined I'd see first-hand. Standing out in the middle of a parking lot in Baghdad, I watched an F-18 scream past me at about 1000ft over the city. At the same time, circling overhead a little higher were to F-16s. For 10 minutes the F-16s circled sharp and close, watching over something I couldn't see.
It hit me as soon as I watched the F-18 fly by that something was up. I've been around combat aircraft for as long as I can remember, but this was the first time I have ever seen them in action, first hand. These guys were in combat.
I'm sure it was nothing out of the ordinary, but to see these guys, my guys (+ Navy) actively engaging a target, providing close air support to the troops on the ground... it was the application of real air power I've worked daily over the last 8+ years to support, in action right above me.
I had a buddy of mine who flies the F-15C tell me years ago that there's nothing better than flying over a combat zone, knowing your best friends were hanging off each wing, and everyone had each other's back. I've heard similar stories from Soldiers who have gone into combat, confident that their friends were all there with them, watching their backs. Yesterday I watched one Navy and two Air Force pilots working together, each covering each other's back, helping one another to provide Close Air Support to the Army on the ground.
Air Force, Navy, and Army working together. It's taken dozens of years, billions of dollars, and countless lives to finally perfect this working relationship, yet here it was on display.
It doesn't get much better than that.
posted by El Capitan at 3:19 AM
Camaraderie? Sometimes that is short in supply.
I've heard and seen too many stories where bad blood is bred even between fellow pilots just because they do not come from the same flying community. For examples, I have seen situations where former bomber pilots are assigned to senior leadership positions in a reconnaissance squadron. The recce guys resented a bomber guy commanding them and judged him before giving him a chance. The bomber guy certainly didn't help matters by insinuating that the recce guys were substandard pilots due to their landing style, without even logging hours in the airframe or examining their operating procedures.
I can somewhat understand aviators treating the "ground Air Force" poorly. That's just Air Force culture, it's never going to change. However, I am appalled and bewildered when our "best of the best" of the Air Force turn on each other in petty feuds just because they didn't fly the same thing as 2Lts.
I'm not saying all pilots are like this but one is too many. In a hazardous field such as military aviation, you cannot afford to wonder if you can trust the guy sitting with you in the cockpit or flying off your wing. Finding out the answer could be quite expensive.
Stuff like this disillusions me as it makes me think all the stuff from ROTC, ASBC, and SOS was bunk.